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The Best Nest

The Best Nest by P.D. Eastman was one of my favorite books as a child.

I would ask my mom and dad to read it to me over and over again…

“I love my house, I love my nest, in all the world, my nest is best.”

I’m not sure if the content of the book was what drew me in as a child, or if it was more about the illustrations and the enjoyable activity of reading a book with my parents. We talk about this often in my children’s literature class – the difference between the child reader and the adult reader. Children tend to take in pieces of literature with an innocence and an appreciation that is quite different from adults. Children notice the details– they will be the first to tell you if there are only 11 girls instead of 12 on a page of Madeline.

And most of all, children seem to have this beautiful simplicity when it comes to reading a book.

There’s no need to complicate things, to get caught up in the what-ifs or the we-don’t-know-yets or the what-does-it-all-mean types of questions. Children don’t need to be taught how to enjoy a book. They simply enjoy it.

Now that I am an adult, I see so much of myself in Mrs. Bird.

“I’m tired of this old place… Let’s look for a new place right now.”

She gets caught up in the ordinary and follows the lie that there is something better out there for them. She becomes ungrateful. She forgets what home really is anyway. That home is more than just where we live. In the end, thankfully she realizes she agrees with Mr. Bird. “I love my house, I love my nest, in all the world, my nest is best.”

I see too that I have a lesson to learn from Mr. and Mrs. Bird. Gratitude for the ordinary moments. Gratitude for “this old place” and the many memories we have already built and will continue to build with our children. Gratitude for the way God is at work in the mundane, for like St. Teresa of Avila says, “our Lord moves amidst the pots and pans.”  And the reminder to simply enjoy the little things and the big things, the same way I would as a child, crawling into my parents’ lap, asking to be read to yet again, feeling loved and at home.

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Betsy Donlon

Betsy Donlon is a native of Nashville, Tennessee. She is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Aquinas College. She and her husband David have 3 children and they love camping, hiking, swimming, and baking cookies.

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